Why Keep the Day of Atonement
If one were to gain a full understanding as to the greatness and inclusiveness of this Great Feast of Yahovah (i.e., Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement), the Gentile Messianic Believer in Yahshua must first acknowledge that he or she qualifies to be a part of this solemn observance. Not to mention, one must also determine the extent upon which we are mandated to observe this and the other Sabbaths of Yahovah.
It is substantiated in the Biblical record, specifically the old covenant (i.e., the Old Testament) that Yahovah, through Moses, gave the children of Israel His laws, commandments, and precepts. It fell upon the children of Israel to accept the contract agreement (i.e., the covenant) which they did, sight unseen at the time this offer was presented to them. (Reference: Exodus 19) I believe every Believer should read and become familiar with this pivotal passage of Scripture. It reads as follows:
ESV Exodus 19:1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. (Exo 19:1 ESV)
This historic event marked the time and place where Yahovah broke the boundaries of the sacred spirit realm to intercede into the affairs of man and set apart for Himself a people to serve Him and only Him in perpetuity. This was a two-sided, conditional covenant in that Yahovah promised to be Israel’s God if they in turn promised to be His people. In order for this people to become or remain being the people of Yahovah, they were required to keep the Creator’s laws, commandments, and precepts forever. At the base of Mount Sinai, the Israelites confirmed this covenant with Yahovah. With the enacting of this agreement between Yahovah and Israel, the Israelites would enjoy safety, prosperity, the opportunity for eternal life when Messiah came to rule the world, and becoming a role model and a special people to and amongst the peoples of the world.
We know from history and the Biblical record that Israel did not keep their end of the bargain and thus this nation and peoples has suffered dispersions, trials and tribulations, death, wars, slavery, famine, and the list goes on. Despite all this, Israel has continued to maintain her unique identity in the world. In most cases, the Jewish nation has prospered in spite of her many tribulations. Never the less, her continued maintenance of this unique identity has isolated her in the world and her woes and persecutions continue to this very day.
The bulk of the nation of Israel (specifically the legendary ten-lost-tribes) has been fully assimilated and dispersed amongst the nations of the world. However, Judah remains to this day partially intact. They continue to maintain their cultural identity in which Torah and Talmud are integrated into their daily lives (more so the practicing orthodox and reformed Jews). They also retain the mysterious but auspicious role as the keepers of the Oracles of Yahovah. Most westerners and many easterners for that matter are cognizant that practicing Jews follow the tenets of the Old Covenant, but their keeping of the Torah is often tempered and hampered by their zealous keeping of the Talmudic laws and commandments of the Rabbis. Additionally, they adamantly deny Yahshua as Hamaschiach (or the prophesied Messiah of old).
Throughout the whole of the Torah, the Father continually reminded Israel of their commitment to keep His commandment, statutes, and ordinances through all of their generations. One of the most moving examples as to how serious the Father was about committing His oracles to this people for perpetuity is found in Deut. 6. It is here that we find the sacred “Shema” that is frequently recited by Jews throughout the world (reference verse 4). The verses immediately following the Shema provides the reader with a moving admonishment:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
(Deu 6:5-9 KJV)
But what about the Gentile that seeks to be a part of the nation of Israel and partake in the promises given to Yahovah’s chosen people? To begin, Yahovah was clear that there is only ONE law:
49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. (Exo 12:49 KJV)
As an aside, one should note that Yahovah gave the Children of Israel only 613 commandments. Many of these 613 laws applied to every Israelite, while others applied specifically to the priests. Regardless, every member of the nation of Israel was required to keep every applicable law. If any of these laws were transgressed by members of the nation or even the entire nation, there were consequences. Transgression of certain laws led to the death penalty. Still other transgressions could be atoned via sacrificial provisions. When Israel was obedient to Yahovah and kept His commandments, they prospered. When the nation faulted in keeping the commandments, Israel suffered.
Conversely, in total, there are literally millions of laws on the books in the United States. Yet, our nation suffers from crime and the moral fiber of our country is sorely tarnished. Although once prosperous and the envy of the nations of the world, the United States is slowly but surely degrading in every way. We are slowly losing the respect of the nations that we once in league with. Many wealthy Americans are fleeing our country to start new lives in other countries because they sense and fear the pending results of this nation’s degradation.
If there is anything we can learn from the example of Israel being obedient to the Torah in comparison to this nation’s current state, it would be that when applied and diligently followed, the Laws of Yahovah lead to safety, prosperity, health, peace of mind, and freedom–not to mention the most important benefit, a right-relationship with our Creator.
The True Believer and Observing the Day of Atonement
Now, orthodox churchianity teaches that the Law was nailed to the cross with Jesus and thus the law has been made null and void. Others would assert that Gentiles or for that matter Christians are not required to keep Torah and that the Law was specifically intended for the Jews. But is this in fact true?
Most learned believers realize that Abraham was the father of the Nation of Israel. The Book of Genesis records a series of covenants that Yahovah made with Abraham and the greatest of those covenants was that a mighty nation would emerge from Abraham’s loins. Furthermore, this nation would produce the Messiah who would save the world from its sin and thus bring about many sons and daughters of the Most High into glory:
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Gen 18:18 KJV)
The Biblical record does not in any way state that the Torah was eliminated through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Yahshau, despite teachings and doctrines to the contrary by orthodox churchianity. As it relates to Israel, Yahovah made it clear that His Laws were perpetual and to be taught to every generation without end–Leviticus 23 and other passages repeatedly assert that the Father’s Laws are to be kept forever. This perpetual keeping and significance of the Law was further supported by Yahshua when He exclaimed:
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:18-20 KJV)
Again, despite clarity of this statement by the Master, millions of well meaning adherents to the Christian Faith are being taught the exact opposite and fed a hijacked and repackaged doctrine of grace that purports the Law has been done away with. There are future consequences for those who teach this doctrine.
But there is still time for those who desire to become true disciples of the Master to come in to the fullness of the Faith by keeping the commandments of Yahshua and possessing His testimony–reference 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev 12:17 KJV)
Now, as it relates to Gentiles being required to keep the Law and reaping the benefits of being a child of Israel, there are some awesome considerations that we should be aware of. Shaul provides us with a vivid explanation of the Gentile’s access to the promises of Yahovah and of the Keys to the Kingdom of Yahovah:
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Rom 11:25 KJV)
29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:29 KJV)
Furthermore, Shaul utilizes a horticultural analogy to explain the process by which Gentiles are given full access to the promises that were afforded to Israel:
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
(Rom 11:17-26 KJV)
From the very beginning Yahovah had a plan to redeem the entire world, including Gentile believers. It is through the work of Yahshua and the working of His Holy Spirit that we are graffed (Gr. For “egkentrizo”=cutting into one plant to insert another so the second one grows as one plant having been graffed in) in to Israel as a spiritual nation. What comes with this ingrafting–if you will–is the requirement to adhere to the precepts and commandments of Yahovah. More so, the Renewed Covenant through Yahshua requires the true believer to keep the commandments in spirit and truth and to love the Father with our entire being while loving our neighbors as ourselves. Thus, when we are able to accomplish this through the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can meet the following benchmark and realize the ultimate prize:
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:20 KJV)
Perceptions and Perspectives on This Day of Atonement
As I observe this solemn and most holy Day of Atonement (Heb. Yom Kippur), I have several thoughts that I’d like to share with you. Hopefully these expressions will bless you and provide you some food for thought and aid you on your search for the One True Faith once delivered.
To begin with, the actual framework for the observance of the Day of Atonement is found in Leviticus 23:26-32:
26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
(Lev 23:26-32 KJV)
My perspectives are derived in whole from a study of this passage:
This Day occurs annually on the tenth-day of the seventh month
It is a Holy Convocation (a calling together)
One is required to afflict one’s soul (considered a fast)
No work is to be performed on this day
This is a perpetual, eternal statute for the people of Yahovah–a failure to participate in this fast would result in one being cut off from the people while a failure to abstain from doing work resulted in death
It is a solemn rest that takes place from sunset to sunset (i.e., a Sabbath)
The observance of this day applied to all of Israel, even to the sojourner
The High Priest made the atonement for the people’s sins through prayers and burnt offerings
The atonement service was done in the holy sanctuary of the tabernacle of the congregation, in the holy of holies only one time a year
During this time we are to humble ourselves with fasting and prayer–Psalms 35:13,14
We must face this day with a broken and contrite (or remorseful) heart–Psalms 51:17
This day was designed to loose the bands of wickedness, undo heavy burdens, free the oppressed from their yokes, and do good–Isaiah 58:5-7
The act of humbling ourselves results in our being spiritually lifted up, healed and restored–Isaiah 57:15-21; James 4:9,10
There are some tremendous prophetic shadow pictures that emerge from observance of this day:
The finishing of all transgressions and making an end to sin; reconciliation; the ushering in of everlasting righteousness; and the fulfillment of prophecy–Daniel 9:24
Yahshua as our High Priest made eternal redemption for us by becoming a living sacrifice. He became the mediator of the renewed covenant. The High Priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood onto the Holy of Holies. Yahshua upon His resurrection, in the presence of Yahovah, presented Himself as the single-eternal sacrifice for all to atone for the sins of many. Our identity with the Master comes through keeping His commandments–Hebrews 9:12-26; I John 2:2-6
On this Day, the High Priest would sacrifice a bull, a ram, 7 lambs each a year old and without blemish, provide a grain offering; and offer a male lamb–all for the atonement of the sins of the people. In addition, two goats were selected from the flock. Lots were casts and one goat was selected to be sacrificed and the blood sprinkled. The High Priest would take the other living goat, place both his hands on the head of that goat, and all of the sins of the people would be placed upon that goat. That goat was then led to the wilderness by an able man and left there. This foreshadows an angel tossing hasatan into a bottomless pit for 1000-years-this at the return of Yahshua to establish His millennial reign–Revelation 20:1-3
On this date in 27 C.E., according to Michael Rood’s Chronological Gospels, the Transfiguration took place. This event foreshadows the coming Kingdom of Yahovah
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. (Luk 9:27-36 KJV)